Right Steps & Poui Trees

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350 Words Or Less: Local Government Elections Tomorrow – Are You Voting?

A part of what I do to engage in our democracy is to vote. Tomorrow’s local government election presents a problem for me, however. Prior to this, I have usually had a clear idea of what I would be doing when I went to the polling booth…which candidate I would be voting for or if I would be intentionally spoiling my ballot. The polls open in a few hours and I still haven’t made a decision.

Up until quite recently, I didn’t know who the candidates were in my division. There weren’t any cards or flyers dropped in my letter box. I couldn’t find the names on the various party online sites. Eventually it was a newspaper article online that I found that briefed me on who the two candidates were. And now I have seen a few posters up in the area. Both are new candidates and I still really know very little about either and since I have always voted across party lines, the candidates’ party affiliation isn’t enough to claim my vote.

So I am not sure what I will be doing tomorrow.

Are you voting?

Local government elections usually get a lower turnout than general elections. In the last four local government elections, the turnout was: 34.73% (2012); 37.94% (2007); 40.09% (2003) and 34.96% (1998). I doubt that it will be much different tomorrow.

Electoral Commission of Jamaica: Parish Council Election Results


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#AToZJamaicaChallenge: Z is for Zika (Finally, Inevitably)

Emma ends our month long #AToZChallengeJamaica with a post that could hardly be more topical right now! And it includes her brilliantly apt question: “Is Zika making itself up as it goes along?”

Petchary's Blog

Well, this is the final chapter in the wanderings through the alphabet that my colleagues Dennis Jones, Susan Goffe and I embarked on at the beginning of the month. Sadly and ironically perhaps, it must end with a topic that we have become pretty obsessed with in the last few months. Ms. Goffe should have had this letter though, as she is far more expert on the latest mosquito-borne virus than I am!

How the Zika virus spread to our side of the world. How the Zika virus spread to our side of the world.

Both my husband and I had the Zika virus at roughly the same time. After a few twinges of joint pain (reminiscent of the joys of chikungunya – the last virus we suffered from back in 2014!) we then started to feel slightly feverish and rather tired. Then we had rashes on our arms and legs. After a day, the rashes were gone. And that was…

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#AtoZChallengeJamaica Y is for Your Time Is Up

In his final post in our #AToZChallengeJamaica, Dennis Jones weaves together a number of threads to do with staying or going…

Jamaica: Political Economy

When one considers politicians’ decisions that their ‘race is run’, no clear patterns emerge. Just last week, Britain held a referendum on its EU membership and the PM, who staunchly urged people to ‘remain’, quickly announced his resignation after the people voted to ‘leave’. His opposing leader also urged ‘remain’ and he is now under heavy pressure from members of his party to ‘leave’. The reasons surrounding each set of decisions seem clear.

In Jamaica, our last general election saw the then-governing party lose its sizeable Parliamentary majority and winone seat less than the then-opposition party. But, a majority of one seat is enough. Many think that defeat in the national polls means the head of the party should step down–especially when they’ve chosen to call the vote–not least because he/she was the standard bearer for the mandate and if ‘the buck stops here’, then at least the leader…

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#AToZJamaicaChallenge: W is for Water (Or The Lack Thereof)

Read Emma’s post for”W” in our June blogging challenge. Whether we are paying attention or not, water supply is a vital national & global issue…

Petchary's Blog

Someone reminded me today that just a year ago we were all obsessed with water. Why? Because there was none. The 2015 drought (there was a 2014 one too) was beginning to really bite last June, while temperatures soared – including more warm nights (haven’t we all felt this?)  Many Jamaicans had no water in their pipes, at all. Rivers ran dry. Bush fires burned.

A bush fire threatens this house in Llandewey, western St. Thomas. This photo was taken in May, 2015. (Photo: Ian Allen/Gleaner) A bush fire threatens this house in Llandewey, western St. Thomas. This photo was taken in May, 2015. (Photo: Ian Allen/Gleaner)

No one is talking much about what local media like to call “the precious commodity” this year, because we have had rain. But we are still worried about water in one sense. We are now storing rainwater (which is good, right?) but in that water breeds wriggling mosquito larvae, which are giving us diseases. It seems we cannot win.

Let us not be in…

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#AtoZChallengeJamaica V is for Voice

Dennis writes today about voice…when people vote & whether politicians listen…Very topical!

Jamaica: Political Economy

The people have spoken! But, how did they speak? Jamaica’s proud of its democratic traditions; voting has been used as the only means to change national government. But, people don’t see voting as their only voice: fewer than 50 percent of the electorate decided to ‘speak’ at our 2016 elections. What does that really mean?

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 7.06.04 AM People have more positions than simple voting can reflect

Britain showed yesterday its own respect for similar traditions, voting in a referendum to leave the EU by a national 52/48 percent  majority.

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 6.55.39 AM How the #Brexit vote looked over Britain. The yellers didn’t win.

But, large parts of the UK–Scotland, Northern Ireland and Greater London–voted clearly to remain. Will people in those areas want their different voices to be heard and acted upon?

The #Brexit vote holds other interesting pointers. Younger people (under 45) voted clearly to remain; those older voted clearly to leave–ironically, they…

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#AToZJamaicaChallenge: T is for Turtle

Thanks for writing this piece on turtles, Emma! They are not warm & fuzzy creatures, but are, as you say, wondrous & fascinating!

Petchary's Blog

I have only seen a sea turtle once – a Green Turtle, from a glass-bottomed boat in Negril. It was a fleeting glimpse of a fascinating creature, which looked like a painted mechanical toy.

Hawksbill Sea Turtle nesting beach at Manatee Bay in the Portland Bight Protected Area - now threatened by a port development. (Photo: Mike Fouraker) Hawksbill Sea Turtle nesting beach at Manatee Bay in the Portland Bight Protected Area – now threatened by a port development. (Photo: Mike Fouraker)

A female sea turtle returns to the sea after laying her eggs. (Photo: TripAdvisor/Oracabessa) A female sea turtle returns to the sea after laying her eggs. (Photo: TripAdvisor/Oracabessa Foundation)

Sea turtles were once abundant in Jamaica. In the 17th century, and especially in the Port Royal area, there was a “turtle industry.” When caught, they were kept alive in a “turtle crawle” – a hollowed-out enclosure near the sea, where the turtles could swim freely but could not escape; rather like the Dolphin Cove tourist attractions today, except the wild dolphins are required to perform tricks, not be eaten. Turtles were also shipped to England, and…

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#AtoZChallengeJamaica S is for Social media’s slippery slope slapping silly and senseless some psychophants and psychologically challenged

Yes, social media is a seductive space. Dennis writes about this in his contribution today to our ongoing #AToZChallengeJamaica. See what he says!

Jamaica: Political Economy

We’re often led to believe that adults should show children the way, but in the age of social media it may be that adults need lessons from the children–and mistakes they make.

We’ve seen recently what some call the allure of social media on politicians–its magnetism is partly the prospect of immediate disclosure and sharing of thoughts to a world that is almost limitless. Who actually reads or listens or watches is not always known, but a ready audience in there to consume. Sweet populism!

I won’t get into psychobabble about dopamine, but much has been written about the psychological pull of social media.

I’m sure Coleridge had no notions of social media when he wrote Kubla Khan:

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 6.49.33 AM What Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms might have become–Pleasure Domes

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan 
A stately pleasure-dome decree

Let me work with the idea I’ve had for ages…

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#AToZChallengeJamaica: Q is for Queen

For Q in our #AToZChallengeJamaica, Emma has written about Queen Elizabeth, who is still Jamaica’s Head of State, more than half a century after Independence. Although we’ve had the power to remove her all this time.

Petchary's Blog

Queen Elizabeth II officially turned ninety years old on June 11 this year. She is the only person I know who has two birthdays. Her real one is April 21. Why? I hear it has something to do with June being a nicer month for celebrations, in terms of the weather. It might even be summer in England by then, with a bit of luck. As the Queen’s representative (and Head of State) in Jamaica, Governor General Sir Patrick Allen and his wife traveled to London to wish her a happy birthday. No, the Prime Minister is not our Head of State. We have a Queen of Jamaica.

In the Jamaican context the Queen is an obvious choice, besides the fact that there aren’t that many Q-words. She is an ever-present and at the same time ever-distant figure. She beams benevolently (one hopes) from afar on our island, once a…

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#AtoZChallengeJamaica P is for Potpourri of Problems

For the #AToZChallengeJamaica today, Dennis covers a range of problems from prisons to politics. A potpourri indeed.

Jamaica: Political Economy

Let me lay out some issues to consider.

Prisoners & payments: Vybz Karkel, musician–in Jamaican jail for murder. Buju Banton, musician–in US jail for drugs offence. Vybz is busy releasing new music, and ‘ruling dance hall’. (He’s following in the well-trodden path of the late Tupac Shakur.) Buju just gained a master’s degree in music business management. Both are doing ‘positive’ things during their time in the pokey. Some people find that time in jail not breaking rocks and visibly suffering–to put it simply–is a travesty. Many Jamaicans disagree. Vybz and Buju are extremely popular: see how one media outlet ‘celebrated’ Vybz’s last birthday.

What do people really find objectionable, though? The crimes, or the fact that prison is seemingly not full-blown hardship? Do we really believe in rehabilitation in prison?

Popularism and propriety: Some of our politicians have recently found themselves not really knowing how to walk the line between these two peas in…

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#AToZJamaicaChallenge: N is for Newcastle

Emma writes today about Newcastle & its environs, a favourite of mine also! With yet another series of great photos! 🙂

Petchary's Blog

If I didn’t live in Kingston, I would have to live somewhere in the Newcastle area. It attracts me on so many levels: the delicious air, the views of the city and the sea, the mountains and the moving clouds, the drifting mist and sunlight. Oh – and there are birds.

Formerly a coffee plantation, the military camp at Newcastle was established as a hill station for British troops in 1841 by Sir William Maynard Gomm (Britain’s longest ever serving soldier). The death toll from yellow fever down in the plains was growing too high (about two or three soldiers per week); many died soon after arrival. Newcastle was more salubrious. In the old days, soldiers marched in their red coats all the way up (and down) from Kingston to Newcastle, a distance of 16 miles. Phew!

Since Independence in 1962, Newcastle has been a Jamaica Defence Force training camp…

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